Post­ed by Nao­mi Firestone-Teeter

Ear­li­er this month, JBC announced the five fic­tion final­ists for this year’s $100,000 Sami Rohr Prize for Jew­ish Lit­er­a­ture. The authors are as diverse as the books them­selves, so, here at the Pros­en­Peo­ple, we thought we’d give you the oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn a lit­tle bit more about the 2013 Rohr con­tenders. We asked each author a few ques­tions about writ­ing, their Rohr final­ist book, favorite books, and, of course, what’s up next for them. Today we hear from Stu­art Nadler, author of the short sto­ry col­lec­tion The Book of Life. Stu­art actu­al­ly just pub­lished his debut nov­el, Wise Men, so if you haven’t had time to read it, go on out and grab your­self a copy. 

No stranger to the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil, in 2011, Stu­art blogged for our Vis­it­ing Scribe series, was inter­viewed for our Emerg­ing Voic­es col­umn, and par­tic­i­pat­ed in a #JLit Twit­ter Book Club. If that was­n’t enough, JBC review­er Phil Sandick stat­ed that:

With [The Book of Life], Nadler firm­ly estab­lish­es him­self with­in the tra­di­tion of short sto­ry writ­ers such as John Cheev­er and Richard Ford, and announces him­self as a promis­ing voice in con­tem­po­rary fiction.

Below, Stu­art dis­cuss­es the books of his youth, writ­ing with­out inter­net, and his love for the short story:

What are some of the most chal­leng­ing things about writ­ing fic­tion?

Every­thing about writ­ing is a chal­lenge. Writ­ing fic­tion is that rare task in which prac­tice and rep­e­ti­tion and some per­ceived con­fi­dence only seem to make it hard­er to do well.

What or who has been your inspi­ra­tion for writ­ing fiction?

I’ve always want­ed to write. When I was young – – maybe sev­en or eight – – I got as a gift a set of clas­sic nov­els sim­pli­fied for chil­dren. These were the first books I ever real­ly loved. Most of them were adven­ture sto­ries: Trea­sure Island, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Time Machine. Ever since then I’ve want­ed to write.

Who is your intend­ed audience?

I’m not sure if I have an intend­ed audi­ence in mind when I work. The best and most sur­pris­ing thing about writ­ing a book is that it goes out into the world, and you nev­er know who might pick it up and read it and find a con­nec­tion in the work.

Are you work­ing on any­thing new right now?

I’ve just pub­lished a new nov­el called Wise Men. Apart from that, I’m in the mid­dle of two projects. Both of them are nov­els – – or at least, right now they are.

What are you read­ing now?

I’ve just start­ed Richard Ford’s Cana­da, and so far it’s terrific.

Top 5 Favorite Books

This is impos­si­ble to do, but here are five books I love:

When did you decide to be a writer? Where were you?

I’ve always want­ed to write, as long as I can remember.

What is the moun­tain­top for you — how do you define success?

If there is a moun­tain­top, I would hope, sim­ply, that it means that I’ve had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to keep work­ing and writing.

How do you write — what is your pri­vate modus operan­di? What tal­is­mans, rit­u­als, props do you use to assist you?

I’ve shed just about all the super­sti­tions and lim­its and quo­tas and page-lim­its that I used to toy with and try. I pre­fer to write ear­ly, and often. I write on a com­put­er with­out any inter­net access, and although it nev­er used to be this way, increas­ing­ly I write in silence, with­out music on in the back­ground. And I always leave myself a hint for the next day’s work.

What do you want read­ers to get out of your book?

Although I’m writ­ing anoth­er nov­el now, I’d love it if peo­ple read The Book of Life and sought out more short fic­tion because of it. I love the short sto­ry. It’s a beau­ti­ful art form and one that I think is under appre­ci­at­ed. That’s what I would love.

Stu­art Nadler is a recip­i­ent of the 5 Under 35 award from the Nation­al Book Foun­da­tion. A grad­u­ate of the Iowa Writ­ers’ Work­shop, where he was award­ed a Tru­man Capote Fel­low­ship and a Teach­ing-Writ­ing Fel­low­ship, he was also the Car­ol Houck Smith Fic­tion Fel­low at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin. He is the author of Wise Men, and the sto­ry col­lec­tion The Book of Life

Orig­i­nal­ly from Lan­cast­er, Penn­syl­va­nia, Nao­mi is the CEO of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil. She grad­u­at­ed from Emory Uni­ver­si­ty with degrees in Eng­lish and Art His­to­ry and, in addi­tion, stud­ied at Uni­ver­si­ty Col­lege Lon­don. Pri­or to her role as exec­u­tive direc­tor, Nao­mi served as the found­ing edi­tor of the JBC web­site and blog and man­ag­ing edi­tor of Jew­ish Book World. In addi­tion, she has over­seen JBC’s dig­i­tal ini­tia­tives, and also devel­oped the JBC’s Vis­it­ing Scribe series and Unpack­ing the Book: Jew­ish Writ­ers in Conversation.